Sorry about the delay! Without dwelling on it too much - soon after that post my grandfather passed on and I was dealing with all of that. Thanks in advance for your condolences, everyone..
To begin, I’ll tell you what I went through with my e-drums, and where I’m at currently, before answering your question.
I first began playing around with e-drums when I was in a parody and comedy rock band. My neighbor at the time had decided he didn’t particularly enjoy living next to a drummer, and we were looking for a solution to lower the volume of our rehearsal. Another goal was to be able to recreate some of the sounds and samples we would need for our material. We started with a Yamaha DTXPress III - honestly a decent setup for the price. We decided the brain didn’t sound very good and purchased a used Roland TD-10, a reasonably priced solution and I remember doing a couple of live performances with that setup. Around this time I began shopping for my own personal e-drums, deciding to buy a set of Hart Dynamics triggers and a Roland TD-20 brain. Big improvement on the feel of the drums. But. I don’t like e-drum brains. Roland has yet to make a brain that butters my muffin. It’s the repetition of the samples that gets me, it works great for electronic music but as soon as you play sixteenth notes on the snare and it’s the same sample over and over again, it bugs me. I think because our human brains love to pick out patterns, so when the ear hears that same sample repeated 8 times it goes “Hey that’s not a real drum!” - Very jarring, and difficult for me to get over.
Along comes Superior 2.0, a product designed with several goals in mind, one of which was to eliminate that sample repetition by using an algorithm that would randomize the samples it chose for certain ranges of trigger velocity information (in a nutshell). I bought into it fairly quickly, spent quite a bit of time fooling around with the settings in the TD-20 brain to make it trigger as accurately as possible.
Moving on to a friend of mine, the singer for the parody band. He lives in Florida now, and runs a successful modern pop and rock cover band on the coast south of Tampa. At this time, he is running his band entirely “in the box”, as they say, using several different software solutions for vocals, guitar, mixing, and Superior 2.0 for drums. The drums started with a combination of the DTExpress 3 and a Hart Dynamics snare running to a TD-20 brain. His experiences show just how important your PC is, it took him quite a while to get his gigging PC powerful enough to run Superior without any noticeable latency. He messaged me with a problem. Sound engineers, club owners, even fans kept saying “I think you’d be better with acoustic drums, why do you use those silly e-drums?” I talked him through to a solution. Buy a cheap drum set, equip it with mesh heads and some clip on triggers and run that to the brain. So far he’s been very satisfied with that setup, and reports that it’s been reliable and accurate.
To run Superior 2.0 with e-drums as triggers you will need:
A computer - It can be a tower or a laptop, but you will want it to be robust and up to date. 8 gigs of ram, something like an i5 intel CPU, and it would probably be a good idea to use a solid state drive for the operating system and the Superior 2.0 software. The goal here is to be able to run Superior 2.0 with as little latency as possible, because if there’s noticeable latency between the moment you strike the trigger and the moment the sample plays it will be a very frustrating experience trying to play anything.
A midi interface - Pretty straightforward, you need a midi interface into your PC. Most digital audio recording boxes have midi ports, like my Echo Layla 24, and there’s even cheaper USB Midi dongles. I do not know if using the cheaper USB dongles will introduce latency into the system - considering you’re running it through USB, controlled by the motherboard, this is just one of the reasons why you want a fairly robust PC.
A Brain - There are a lot of options! Just poking around on google for five minutes while I’m typing this, I discovered that dDrum is making a 10 input trigger to midi box for a hundred and fifty dollars, and it comes packaged with EZDrummer. Most of the model of Roland brains will work, and Yamaha brains, it comes down to the features you want and your budget.
Triggers - Again, LOTS of options. In my opinion Roland simply makes the best electronic cymbals money can buy. Yamaha comes close. I personally own a set of Hart Dynamics E-cymblas and they’re a constant struggle. For drum triggers you can take an acoustic set and replace the heads with mesh and buy some Pintech triggers and away you go, or you can spend a bit more and get an out-of-the-box solution like a kit from Yamaha or Roland. You can basically take a Roland TD-20 kit, set it up, hook the midi to your computer and start using Superior 2.0.
What can I get away with that would take advantage of all of SD 2.X's features that won't kill me?
The question I have is what is the most reasonable, usable, cost effective e-drum solution that will work seamlessly with SD 2.X.
After all of that:
Triggers - A drumset outfitted with mesh heads and triggers, like the Ddrum Red Shots or Pintech’s trigger traps. If you can find a decent price on a Roland V Drum or high end Yamaha kit, it’s a great way to get the good cymbals, and a trigger solution that will work out of the box with less tinkering.
Cymbals - this is the killer. Your choices are Roland or Yamaha, maybe if you’re really on a budget, Pearl’s e-pro plastic crashes. Anything cheaper and you’re going to be fighting it and quite unhappy with how it plays.
Brain - That dDrum trigger to midi converter looks great. The price is right. I’m tempted to try it myself. I’ve got zero experience using it, but if they’re shipping it with a copy of EZDrummer, it’s clearly intended to be used for triggering Toontrack products with e-drums.
PC and Interface - Do not mess around. Minimal latency is all important with this set up.
Yes. We’re talking about some significant gear here. There’s just so few ways to skimp and save and be satisfied, you get what you pay for with e-drums. The price of cheaping out is unreliable triggering, latency, durability. Regardless of what you do, there’s a learning curve. You’ll be neck deep in learning about sensitivity, threshold, cross talk, assigning note values - it goes on and on. I’m still learning new things every time I go down into the basement and start tinkering with it. Go ahead and ask any questions here and we’ll try to puzzle them out together. I can’t tell you how many times my friend in Tampa has messaged me asking a question that’s sent me diving into my Roland manual and surfing forums hunting for a solution.